The Martial Tradition in Chinese Medicine

By Bill Reddy, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

My name is Bill Reddy, and I'm the latest addition to the Alliance board of directors. Like many of you, I was drawn to learning about Chinese Medicine through my martial arts training. In my study of Wing Chun Kung Fu, we would repeatedly strike and block in "two man sets" that would leave our forearms bruised the next day. My sifu had us apply Dit Da Jow and POOF! the bruises would vanish. What a wicked looking and strange-smelling concoction swimming with poisonous beetles, snake skin, and herbs I couldn't identify. There's nothing at CVS pharmacy that even comes close to this wonderful stuff.

In ancient China, the Kung Fu master of the province was also the healer of the community. Fighting and healing seem to be unlikely skills for one person, but when armies were being trained - sprains, strains, contusions were commonplace and joint dislocations and bone breaks were not unusual. Martial arts masters and Shaolin monks developed countless herbal formulas to treat everything from a sword wound to a concussion. Deeply rooted in the Taoist self cultivation methods were herbal therapy and acupuncture along with meditation, Kung Fu, and Qi Gong.

In the late 1800s during turmoil in China, two famous martial artists emerged - one from the north, and one from the south. Their fighting skills and healing abilities were legendary. Sun Lu Tang was one of the most famous boxers of the northern Nei Jia or Internal school of martial arts. He trained under the great masters of the region and was known for his compassion for those injured in combat and his ability to heal them. One day he was attacked by thieves and after defeating them, spent time to reset their dislocated bones.

Wong Fei Hong, immortalized in countless Chinese martial arts movies, was known for his amazing martial skill and deep knowledge of Chinese medicine in southern China. His father was a renowned physician and one of the "Ten Tigers of Canton," who founded a clinic known as "Po Chi Lam" (precious iris woods). Fei Hong worked at his father's clinic and trained in Hung Gar Kung Fu. He quickly became a folk hero in China, and has been described as the Chinese Robin Hood because of his kindness toward the poor and his willingness to treat anyone who came to his clinic. He was also considered a revolutionary in his political beliefs.

Many skilled fighters believe the highest form of martial art is NOT fighting. The same can be said for the promotion of health. If the patient were to get out of his/her own way, healing will occur naturally. According to Taoist eight branches, the most subtle but profound approach to healing is meditation/self cultivation, which involves quieting the mind. This allows the practitioner greater awareness of their qi flow and focus toward balance and harmony.

So take time to meditate on the future of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in this country, and please renew your membership if you haven't gotten around to it.

Xi Xia

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